Title: A Fine Southern Tradition

Author: Joules Mer

Author's e-mail: julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk

Pairing: T/R

Rating: PG-13

Summary: The sequel to A Tarnished Family Tree

Archive: Yes to EntSTSlash, all others please ask

Length: 1,500 words

    In the opinion of Malcolm Reed, first contact had was going exceedingly well.  Commander Charles Tucker III was currently representing Starfleet while they waited for Captain Archer to arrive.  Their hosts were a friendly species, even if their proper name was somewhat impossible to pronounce.  He returned his full attention to the ceremony as something caught his eye.  

    It was an almost luminescent dark green in colour and, if the look on Trip's face was anything to go by, it burned on the way down.  Trip swallowed again and barely suppressed a shudder as he placed the empty ceremonial vessel on the table.  The aliens chanted something in a dialect the U.T. couldn't lock on to so Tucker just nodded at polite intervals.  Just when was starting to look like they were going to expect Tucker to join in, the arrival of Jonathan Archer interrupted the proceedings.  Trip slipped away to stand off to the side with Malcolm while the captain acted as Earth's ambassador.  

    Jon stepped up and started his patented "I am Captain Jonathan Archer, from the planet Earth" speech.  He'd barely made it to the part about their mission of exploration when he was interrupted.  Shouting had erupted, words in an alien language flowing too fast for the universal translator to keep up with.  Jon turned abruptly to locate the source of the disturbance.  That's when he saw his chief engineer and his armoury officer...the second and third ranking Starfleet officers on Enterprise... representatives of Earth, rolling around on the floor of the meeting chambers locked in a passionate embrace.

    He gaped as they rolled to a stop with Commander Tucker straddling the lieutenant.  Trip grabbed Malcolm's wrists and firmly pinned Malcolm's hands to the floor.  He then leaned forward and attempted to perform a tonsillectomy on the smaller man using his tongue as the sole surgical implement.

    The aliens that lined the walls of the chamber surged forward and roughly grabbed Trip.  They hauled the commander off Malcolm and held him from behind as others trained their guns on him   The U.T. finally caught up with the alien's tirade and Jonathan didn't like the sound of the demands he was hearing.  It seemed the egregious assault on the lieutenant was an insult to the man's honour.  The commander must make immediate amends by participating in a long and complicated ceremony placing him in indentured servitude to Malcolm Reed, and the description of the alternative sounded alarmingly like a stoning.  The alien moved on to gleefully outline the device that would be implanted in Trip to yield an electric shock if he misbehaved.  Although, their host hinted, it was quite likely that the guards wouldn't hesitate to defend the lieutenant's virtue on the spot via their long barrelled pulse rifles.  At the horrified look on Jon's face the alien explained that unsolicited or public copulation was not tolerated.

    It had been quite the first contact.  He'd had to explain to a race of aliens, who were completely unfamiliar with human physiology, that thrusting your tongue into someone's mouth is not a form of intercourse.  That had been a rather embarrassing experience he didn't care to repeat, and now, over dinner, he could indulge in the action that would make it all worthwhile: needling his friend about the incident.  Jonathan Archer was currently doing an admirable job in that department.

    "Ya can't blame us for being a little.." Trip trailed off and flushed at the memory, "frisky."

    "There's no 'us' in 'you' Trip, last I checked that is."  Trip had the grace to blush even redder as he became engrossed with the contents of his almost empty dinner plate.

    "Malcolm wasn't exactly fighting Cap'n, not at first."

    "I don't think his tactical training included 'how to avoid being jumped by your boyfriend during a diplomatic meeting.' "

    "Indeed Captain."

    "Aw gimme a break.  It was the drink Cap'n.  Ya heard what Phlox said."

    "You're just lucky T'Pol wasn't there.  I can't imagine what the High Command would make of this particular incident."

    "They said it was a 'water-based ceremonial spirit.'  Distilled from the 'Ntarr, 'Ntrarra, this tree they have.  I didn't wanna offend them or anythin'.  You're just lucky you weren't there yet."

    "Or I'd have followed in the 'Tucker tradition'?"  Malcolm perked up at this tidbit of information.  The very nature of the notoriety surrounding the Tucker family had been a subject of intense speculation on his part for quite some time.  To date, Trip Tucker had avoided the subject with more tact then Malcolm would usually associate with the man.

    "Gawd, it was like a time-warped deja vu."  Trip moaned and Jon managed to look sympathetic and amused at the same time.

    "What's this?  I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the 'Tucker family tradition.'

    "Tuckers have a bit of a habit of being..."  Trip paused as he searched for an elusive word, "coerced into marryin."

    Jon snorted and turned to Malcolm.  "What the eloquent Mr. Tucker is saying is that generations of Tucker men have found themselves in shotgun weddings.

    "A shotgun wedding?  Doesn't that mean that the young women is enceinte? "

    "I dunno what that means but I can guess and I don't like your tone Mr. Reed."

    "I believe it usually does Malcolm, although it isn't necessary." Jon supplied helpfully.  

    "But some of their fathers might have jumped the gun a bit. I mean, just cause you're caught smooching in the woodshed don't mean...well, my grandaddy swears that when..."

    Malcolm eyed the captain incredulously over the table, speaking over Tucker's rambling monologue.  "That, is the 'Tucker tradition'? "

    "And my Uncle William hadn't knocked up Auntie Sue, her daddy just..."

    Jon spoke louder to drown out his friend.  "I'm surprised you didn't know already Malcolm."  Trip trailed off when it became evident that his defence was being ignored.

    "Well I've been trying to guess for quite some time but... well I suppose it does make some sense when one thinks about it."

    "What's that supposed ta mean?"

    "Well," began Malcolm, trying to choose his words diplomatically.  "Tuckers are very persistent, not to mention convincing, when courting.  They also tend to be quite zealous in their actions.  Was there an initial case where a pregnancy was involved? "

    Trip reddened again. "Perhaps...well, yeah."

    "There you go.  With that...stigma...attached to a family of passionate lovers, successive potential fathers-in-law can't be blamed for overreacting.  As time passed and a tradition of these weddings was established it must have become a normal occurrence in your area."

    "The old fogies do enjoy arguing about which gun gets a Tucker to the alter the quickest," Trip conceded.

    "I remember our leave after Australia."  Jon turned to Malcolm.  "We went to this bar near his parent's house.  Trip was flirting up a storm with the waitress when a man in the corner yelled out that 'Josh,' who I gathered was her father, 'better dust off his ammo.'  That's when I had 'the tradition' explained to me."  Jon grinned at the images the memory evoked.

    "Well I'm certainly glad you cooled down after they hauled you off me.  They were ready to wed us on the spot and I doubt you struggling with the honour guard would have helped things."  Malcolm calmly addressed Trip from across the table.

    "Having a gun to your head seems ta put things inna perspective, real fast too."

    "Would I be that horrible to marry Trip?"  Malcolm queried.  Jon looked back and forth between the two men.  He wanted to see how Trip would handle this one, it could be a very cold bed for a very long time if he wasn't careful.

    "Hell Malcolm, ya know how I feel 'bout ya.  I just hoped I'd be one of the rare Tuckers who gets married on their own terms."

    "I suppose that's a reasonable aspiration."

    "Look Cap'n, could we please keep this between the three of us?"  Tucker looked to Archer, imploring with his eyes.

    "Well, there was a reason I didn't ask T'Pol to join us for dinner tonight.  I do have some pity Trip."

    "Some." Trip grudgingly agreed.

    Malcolm grinned at the friendly banter and couldn't resist adding own his two cents.  "You know what they say Trip."

    "What's that darlin' ?"

    "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder."  Jon burst out laughing as Trip groaned and dropped his head to the table.


    It was hours later and the couple were lying on the bunk in Trip's quarters.  Malcolm lazily ran his hand over Trip's chest and glanced up to find his lover lost in thought, a slight furrow marring his brow.  "What is it love?"

    Trip seemed rather reluctant but he finally asked the question that was on his mind.  "Your daddy don't own a gun?"

    "No, but I wouldn't put it past Madeline." Malcolm turned his head and held Trip's gaze with an unblinking stare.  "She's always been rather overprotective."

    Trip gave a reflexive gulp, it would be a while before he got to sleep.